Sun Devil Volleyball Concludes Season With UNLV Thanksgiving Classic

Nov. 25, 2002

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    What's On Tap:
    The Arizona State Sun Devil Volleyball team concludes the 2002 regular season this weekend at the UNLV/Hard Rock Thanksgiving Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. Standing at 12-11 overall and ending the Pac-10 season in seventh place at 8-10, the Sun Devils have a pair of key matches this weekend that could decided postseason fate. ASU opens tournament play against Oral Roberts (22-8) Friday at 5 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus. ASU will then play the winner of the UNLV/Weber State match. The tournament marks the first time during head coach Patti Snyder-Park's 14-year career that ASU has competed in a Thanksgiving weekend tournament. The last time ASU ended the regular season with a non-conference opponent was in 1999 with a five-game loss at Northern Arizona. After this weekend's tournament the Sun Devils will wait to see if they will be one of the 64 teams invited to the NCAA Tournament. The field of 64 will be announced Sunday morning (Dec. 1) at 7 p.m. MST on ESPNEWS.

    Escobar Eighth In Single-Season Service Aces:
    Junior outside hitter Juliana Escobar has moved into eighth place in the ASU record books for service aces in a single season. With five aces vs. the Oregon schools two weeks ago, Escobar now has 45 on the season and is first in the Pac-10 with 0.56 per game. The ASU single-season record is 65 set by All-American setter Regina Stahl in 1984.

    Academic Accolades:
    ASU Volleyball has a legacy of academic success in the programs 30-year history and that tradition continued this year with six student-athletes earning Pac-10 All-Academic honors. Senior middle blocker Julia Leddy (3.75 GPA, Secondary Education) was named to the first team for the second straight year. Senior setter Fernanda Habiger (3.72, Communication), junior outside hitter Kim Mehlhorn (3.80, Recreation Management/Tourism) and junior setter Cheryl Anglin (3.65, Nursing) were all named to the second team. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Natalie Harris and junior Courtney Blocher were both honorable mention selections. With the four first and second-team selections, Arizona State now has the most all-academic selections among the 10 conference members with 30 dating back to 1986.

    Natalie Harris Has Career Night vs. UCLA:
    Sophomore outside hitter Natalie Harris had a career night in ASU's five-game loss to No. 21 UCLA last Thursday. Harris set new career highs with 22 kills, 17 digs, five total blocks and 25.5 total points. She recorded her second career double-double, surpassing her previous career high of 12 kills vs. Duke (12/1/00) in the NCAA First Round in Minneapolis, Minn., as a freshman.

    Leddy Closing Out a Record-Setting Career:
    Senior middle blocker Julia Leddy is nearing the end of a career that could end up as one of the best middle blockers in school history. Leddy now has 221 block assists in her career to rank 10th in the ASU career record books. After ranking second all-time in ASU single-season history with a .352 hitting percentage last year, Leddy is on pace to surpass or tie the school record of .353 with a .353 mark through 23 matches this year. Her .337 career hitting percentage is also on pace to break a school record. She is currently 9th among active Pac-10 players with 927 kills and sixth with 292 total blocks.

    The End of An Era:
    In addition to the three seniors that said farewell during senior night vs. Oregon during senior weekend, 14th-year head coach Patti Snyder-Park also bid farewell to the Sun Devil faithful. With a career 213-180 record heading into this weekend, Snyder-Park announced at the beginning of the season that 2002 would be her final year of head coaching at the college level so she can spend more time with her family. ASU has advanced to postseason play six times under Snyder-Park and has finished in the top 25 four different times under her tutelage.

    Anglin Becomes Second Best Setter in ASU History:
    Junior setter Cheryl Anglin has gained sole possession of second place in the ASU career record books moving past former Sun Devil Jennifer Helfrich, who dished out 2,956 assists as a four-year setter from 1989-92. With 3,385 in 79 career matches (11.47 per game average), Anglin has the most assists among active Pac-10 setters. Her season-high 76 assists vs. Oregon (10/18) are the sixth most in ASU single-match history and established an ASU and Pac-10 rally-scoring (adopted in 2001) record. Anglin already holds the single-season school record and freshman record when she had 1,452 in 2000 and also has the second (84) and fifth (77) most assist in single-match history.

    Devils Snap Six-Game Win Streak in Five-Game Matches:
    Arizona State endured its first five-game loss of the year last Thursday vs. UCLA. They had a perfect 6-0 record in five-game matches snapped with the loss. ASU led 13-10 late in game five, but could not seal the win. In two of ASU's five-game wins, the Devils have had to battle back from a 0-2 deficit to keep their perfect record. ASU's five-game victories have come against Pacific (9/7), Clemson (9/14), Texas Tech (9/15), Washington (10/3), Cal (10/11) and most recently the Ducks. Comparatively, ASU was 2-3 in five-game matches last year. The Devils also own a 3-2 record in four-game matches and are 3-8 in three-game matches.

    The Barton County CC/Brazilian Connection:
    With the addition of 2001 AVCA Junior College Player of the Year Juliana Escobar, the Sun Devils now have two players who are native to Brazil. Senior setter Fernanda Habiger and Escobar both hail from Barton County CC in Kansas. Escobar, who averaged 6.17 kills per game in her junior college career and was the 2001 AVCA JC Player of the Year, is from Brasilia, Brazil, while Habiger is from Cruzeira, Brazil.

    30 Years of Sun Devil Volleyball:
    The Sun Devil Volleyball program continues its 30th year of competition this weekend at the UNLV/Hard Rock Thanksgiving Classic. The program has combined for an all-time 506-357 (.586%) record dating back to the first year in 1973. The 1973 season also provided the best record in school history, with the Sun Devils going 21-0 under the guidance of head coach Mary Littlewood. Four head coaches have guided the program to 16 appearances in postseason play, including a string of four straight regional appearances from 1985-88 and 1992-95. The program has finished in the AVCA Top 25 rankings nine times and has had five players earn AVCA All-America status. Since beginning play in the Pac-10 in 1986, ASU has had 14 Pac-10 Player of the Week awards.

    2002 Sun Devil Player Notes...
    #1 Mandy Stephens (6-3, Jr., MB/OP, Napa, Calif.) --
    Has seen action in 14 matches this year, including one start vs. Cal (10/11)... averaging 1.22 kills per game... has recorded season-high six kills on three different occasions... recorded career-high two service aces vs. California (11/9)... had six kills in victory over Creighton (9/7) and six kills vs. Stanford (10/10) while hitting .462. Career Notes: Averaged 2.51 kills per game while playing in 39 games and 18 matches in 2001... has a career 1.97 kpg average in 44 matches (95 games) as a Sun Devil.

    #2 Alicia Akporiaye (6-2, Fr., OH, Tucson, Ariz.) --
    Has started all 23 matches this year at opposite hitter... averaging 1.89 kills and 1.93 digs per game this year... averaging 1.98 kpg and 1.95 dpg in Pac-10 play... has recorded four of her six career double-doubles this year, including a 12-kill and career-high 21-dig match vs. Oregon (10/18)... had her best career match vs. Cal (10/11), nearly tabbing a triple-double with 14 kills, 18 digs and a career-high blocks (8)... recorded career-high 16 kills and added 10 digs in five-game win over Washington (10/3)... notched double-double with 11 kills and 17 digs vs. UCLA (9/21)... the 17 digs matched her previous career high... recorded nine kills in season opener vs. South Carolina (9/6). Career Notes: Named honorable mention freshman All-Pac-10 in 2001... ranked sixth on the team in 2001 by averaging 1.64 kills per game and third with 0.65 blocks per game... averaging 1.77 (278 total) kpg and 1.95 (306 total) dpg in her 47 career matches (157 games) as a Sun Devil.

    #3 Juliana Escobar (5-11, Jr., OH, Brasilia, Brazil) --
    Has started 22 of ASU's 23 matches at outside hitter... sat out Friday's match with USC due to an injured knee... should be ready to play this weekend in Las Vegas... an All-America and All-Pac-10 candidate... has recorded a double-double (kills/digs) in 15 matches this year... also has 20 or more kills in 10 matches and one 20-20 match this year... double-digits in kills in 18 of her 22 matches played (82%)... leads the team and is ranked fifth in the Pac-10 with 4.31 kpg average... also fifth in the league with 3.40 digs per game... leads the Pac-10 with 0.53 service aces per game, already ranking eighth in single-season school history with 45... averaging 4.21 kpg and 3.51 dpg in Pac-10 play this year... recorded 15 kills and 21 digs in last match vs. UCLA (11/21)... had solid weekend at Oregon and Oregon State (10/18-19), averaging 4.67 kpg and 4.89 dpg in two matches... recorded ASU rally-scoring records with 27 kills, 26 digs and 32.5 points in win over Oregon (10/18)... had 20 kills and 16 digs to help lead ASU to 3-0 win over Arizona (9/27)... became ASU's 14th player to ever earn Pac-10 Player of the Week (9/30) by recording 20 kills and 16 digs vs. Arizona (9/27)... had 23 kills and 13 digs in win over #11 UCLA (9/21)... had 21 kills and 18 digs in her first match as a Sun Devil (South Carolina; 9/6)... tallied 25 kills vs. No. 13 Pacific in her second match as a Sun Devil... had 15 service aces in three matches at Carolina Classic, including six vs. Creighton (9/7)... the six aces are tied for the seventh most in ASU single-match history... named to the all-tournament team at the Carolina Classic and Red Raider Classic. Career Notes: Came to ASU from Barton County CC (Great Bend, Kan.) where she was the 2001 AVCA/NJCAA Player of the Year... averaged 6.17 kpg, 1.11 service aces per game and 2.29 dpg over her two years at the junior college level... played with Sun Devil teammate Fernanda Habiger at Barton County CC.

    #4 Natalie Harris (5-11, RS-So., OH, Tempe, Ariz.) --
    Has seen action 19 of ASU's 23 matches this year, including seven starts at outside hitter... named honorable mention All-Pac-10 Academic... averaging 1.87 kpg and 2.09 dpg... coming off career-best match vs. UCLA (11/21) when she had 22 kills, 17 digs, five blocks and 25.5 total points... all four are career highs... recorded a then season-high nine kills in victory over Creighton (9/7) and also had nine in loss to Washington State (10/4)... notched 10+ dig matches vs. Arizona (9/27) and Washington (10/3). Career Notes: Coming off shoulder surgery and a redshirt season in 2001... has recorded two career double-doubles... averaging 1.46 kpg and 1.88 dpg in 47 career matches (121 games) as a Sun Devil.

    #5 Julia Leddy (6-2, Sr., MB, Mesa, Ariz.) --
    Nearing the end of her Sun Devil career with two regular season matches remaining... ASU's only four-year senior... has started all 23 matches at middle blocker... named second team Academic All-District and first-team All-Pac-10 Academic with 3.75 GPA in Elementary Education... has recorded double-digits in kills in 15 of ASU's 21 matches and hit over .300 in all but eight matches this year... second on the team with 2.99 kpg and is ranked fourth in the Pac-10 with .353 hitting percentage... second on the team with 0.82 blocks per game... had team-high 18 kills on a .471 hitting percentage vs. Oregon State (10/19)... recorded 15 kills and was one off of her career high with eight blocks in win over Cal. (10/11)... her four solo blocks vs. Washington (10/3) are tied for second best in the Pac-10 this year... had solid weekend on the road at Oregon and Oregon State (10/18-19) in which averaged 4.44 kpg and 1.00 bpg in the two victories... hit .526 with 22 kills in win over Oregon (10/18)... named tournament MVP at Red Raider Classic after averaging 2.90 kills in the two matches... had 14 kills in back-to-back matches vs. South Carolina and #13 Pacific in the season-opening Carolina Classic... named to all-tournament team at Carolina Classic. Career Notes: Ranked third on the team in 2001 by averaging 2.84 kills per game and led ASU with a .352 hitting percentage, notching the second-highest single-season hitting percentage in school history... had career-high 23 kills vs. Washington (10/12/01)... named tournament MVP of Loyola Marymount Volleyball Challenge during junior year... recorded double-digits in kills in 14 of ASU's 26 matches last year... has recorded 48 matches with 10 or more kills throughout her career and boasts a .337 hitting percentage in 96 career matches (338 games) as a Sun Devil... only two players (including herself) have hit higher than .337 in a single season in ASU history, let alone a career... three-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection... her 927 kills are the eighth most among active Pac-10 players and 291 total blocks are sixth most... is ranked 10th in career block assists in ASU history (221).

    #7 Kim Mehlhorn (5-11, Jr., OH, Tempe, Ariz.) --
    Has started 13 of the 23 matches this year and seen action in 53 games... has been sidelined lately with a string of severe migraine headaches, including missing last Thursday's match at UCLA (11/21)... second-team All-Pac-10 Academic selection... averaging 1.98 kills per game and 1.47 dpg this year...recorded her third double-double of the year with 11 kills and 11 digs vs. Oregon (11/16)... hit .583 with seven kills off the bench to help ASU to 3-1 win over Oregon State (10/19)... notched consecutive double-doubles at the Red Raider Classic vs. Clemson and Texas Tech... named to all-tournament team at Red Raider Classic... had season-high 15 kills vs. Clemson (9/14). Career Notes: Recorded 19 matches with 10 or more kills in 2001, including a string of 14 of the last 15 matches to end the season... ranked eighth in the Pac-10 as a sophomore with 3.83 kills per game in league matches only... averaged 3.88 kills per game over the final 15 matches of 2001... has 17 career double-doubles (most among active Sun Devil hitters) and is averaging 2.32 kpg and 2.06 dpg in her 75 matches (238 games) as a Sun Devil.

    #8 Courtney Blocher (5-7, Jr, LI/OH, Scottsdale, Ariz.) --
    Has started 15 of 23 matches this year, with 14 coming at libero and one (Cal; 10/11) at outside hitter... honorable mention All-Pac-10 Academic... second on the team and has been ranked in the top 10 in the Pac-10 with 2.87 digs per game... had career-high four service aces (her first four of 2002) in four-game win over Oregon (11/16)... recorded her seventh career 20+ dig match with season-high 24 at Oregon (10/18)... also had 23 digs in five-game win at Washington (10/3)... recorded 20 digs vs. then No. 11 UCLA (9/21)... had 16 digs in five-game win over No. 13 Pacific (9/7)... has recorded 10 or more digs in 11 times this year. Career Notes: Started all 26 matches and played in every game in 2001... recorded four matches with 20+ digs... averaged 3.09 digs per game, second-best on team and ranked fifth in the Pac-10... one of ASU's four sophomores from Chandler's Valley Christian High School... 1999 Arizona Gatorade State Player of the Year... averaging 2.83 digs per game (844 total) and has 42 career matches with 10 or more digs in her 79 matches as a Sun Devil... her 844 digs are eighth most among active Pac-10 players.

    #10 Cheryl Anglin (5-9, Jr., S, Queen Creek, Ariz.) --
    ASU's starting setter in 22 of the ASU's 23 matches this year... named to second-team All-Pac-10 Academic team... averaging 9.52 assists per game this year, seventh best in the Pac-10... recorded a Pac-10-best 76 assists at Oregon (10/18) to rank as the sixth-best assist performance in ASU single-match history... the 76 assists are the third most in Anglin's career and established an ASU and Pac-10 rally-scoring record... also dished out 67 assists vs. Clemson (9/14)... moved into second place in ASU career record books for assists (3,385) past former Sun Devil (1989-92) Jennifer Helfrich... her 17 assists vs. Arizona (10/25) were a single-match career low during her three years at ASU. Career Notes: Has the most career assists among active Pac-10 setters with 3,385... school single-season record and freshman record holder for assists when she had 1,452 as a freshman in 2000... owns the second (84), fifth (77) and sixth (76) best assist performances in school history... has recorded 39 career matches with 40 or more assists and 24 matches with 50 or more assists in her career... averaging 11.47 assists per game in 79 career matches (295 games) as a Sun Devil.

    #11 Jodi Smith (6-1, RS-Jr., MB, St. Johns, Ariz.) --
    Has started 22 matches this year at middle blocker... has 10 or more kills in 10 of ASU's 19 matches... leads the team with 0.89 blocks per game... has four or more blocks in eight of ASU's last 12 matches... had career-high eight blocks in five-game win over Cal (10/11)... set season-high with 15 kills vs. Oregon (10/18)... averaging 2.36 kpg to rank third on the team and is second in hitting percentage (behind Julia Leddy) at .251... had career-high three service aces vs. Pacific (9/7)... had 14 kills and hit .370 in win over No. 13 Pacific (9/7)... had 12 kills in four consecutive matches (9/20-10/3). Career Notes: ASU's only two sport female athlete... also a high jumper on the ASU track & field team... tied for third in last year's Pac-10 meet with a jump of 5 ft, 7.25 inches... led the team with 0.86 blocks per game last year and ranked fifth with a 2.27 kill/game average... is averaging 2.28 kpg and is a career .258 hitter in 53 matches (178 games) as a Sun Devil... one of three married players on this year's squad (Habiger, Arnett).

    #12 Fernanda Habiger (5-11, Sr., S, Cruzeira, Brazil) --
    Has seen action in all 23 matches this year, including her first career start on senior night vs. Oregon (11/16)... second-team all-Pac-10 Academic selection... was ASU's sparkplug off the bench in wins over Texas Tech (9/15), UCLA (9/21) and Arizona (9/27)... averaging 0.48 blocks per game this year to rank third on the team... had a career-high 4.0 blocks vs. UCLA (9/21) and vs. Washington (10/3)... notched a career-high seven kills vs. Washington... averaging 3.59 assists per game, including a career-high 30 in five-game victory over Texas Tech (9/15)...her 30 assists vs. TTU marked the first time since 1999 that a player other then Cheryl Anglin has led the team in assists. Career Notes: Finished her first year as a Sun Devil (2001) with 0.39 kpg, 2.15 assists/game and 0.39 dpg... transferred from Barton County CC in Great Bend, Kansas... one of two ASU players who are native to Brazil... was the JC teammate of Juliana Escobar... one of three players on this years team that is married (Smith, Arnett).

    #13 Brittany Arnett (5-7, Sr., DS, Mesa, Ariz.) --
    One of three seniors on this years team... has moved into a starting role in the last eight matches at libero... had career-high 22 digs vs. Washington (11/02) and 14 vs. Washington State (11/01)... had 17 digs in five-game victory over California (10/11)... averaging 2.70 dpg in 54 games played (19 matches) this year... averaging 13.13 digs per match in her eight starts this year (3.75 per game average). Career Notes: Finished second on the team with 23 service aces last year... has 15 career matches with 10 or more digs, including five this year... one of three players who are married (Smith, Habiger).

    #14 Sarah Watkins (5-11, Fr., OH/S, Mishawaka, Ind.) --
    One of two true freshmen on this year's squad... made her first career start against Washington (11/02) and recorded her first career double-double with 11 kills and 22 digs... sidelined lately with an ankle injury... played in all three games vs. Creighton (9/7), recording one dig and one service ace... came off the bench in win vs. California (10/11) to record six kills while hitting .308... has played in nine matches and 22 games this year (3 starts), averaging 1.09 kpg and 1.59 dpg... a four-time all-conference selection in high school... named state MVP her senior year.

    #15 Nora Pirzynski (5-6, Fr., DS/LI, Manhattan Beach, Calif.) --
    One of two true freshmen on this year's squad... has seen action in 10 of ASU's 23 matches this year... had one kills and two digs in ASU debut vs. South Carolina (9/6)... season-high six digs vs. Clemson (9/14)... averaging 0.940 digs per game this year... attended Mira Costa High School where she lettered three years in varsity volleyball... first-team all-CIF as a senior and helped lead Mira Costa to back-to-back CIF championships.

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